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2004 Wreathlaying Ceremony

Introductory Remarks

By Craig W. Floyd, NLEOMF Chairman & CEO, October 15, 2004

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for joining us today on this very special occasion-the thirteenth anniversary of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

My name is Craig Floyd and I have the privilege of serving as chairman of the Memorial Fund and your host for today's event. On behalf of the Memorial's board of directors, it is my pleasure to welcome all of you. Your presence is an important show of respect and support for the fallen heroes we remember today.

Our ceremony begins with: the presentation of the colors by the United States Park Police; the National Anthem by Corporal Joel Morris of the Prince George's County Police Department; and the invocation by Captain Herman Wilkins of the Maryland Department of Transportation. Ladies and gentlemen, please rise.

More than 20 years ago, 15 national law enforcement groups gathered together under one banner, with one common goal: To build a national memorial for fallen law enforcement officers. This Memorial was completed on October 15, 1991-13 years ago today.

Soon after, we asked ourselves the question, "Does the Memorial represent the end of journey, or perhaps the beginning?" Does the Memorial do enough to honor the service and sacrifice of ALL law enforcement officers, to increase public support for law enforcement, and to promote safety in policing?

After careful deliberation, and with input from law enforcement officers at the Federal, state, county, and local levels, we decided it was the beginning.

This has turned out to be the right decision. Since the Memorial's dedication 13 years ago today, this site has been visited by millions of people. The walls solemnly list thousands of names-many of them had slipped through the cracks of history before becoming permanently recognized here on this hallowed ground. The Memorial grounds have hosted hundreds of candlelight vigils and other memorable events.

Where the Memorial tells the end of their stories, our newest undertaking-the National Law Enforcement Museum-will tell the rest of the story. Scheduled to open in 2011 across the street, the Museum will share with all Americans the lesson I have learned in my tenure with the NLEOMF: That law enforcement has great worth to our nation. That the officers we honor today, the officers whose names appear on these walls, and the 870,000 officers who serve today, are a special breed. They deserve our respect, our appreciation, our support. Visitors to that Museum will learn the lesson that I have learned . . . "It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived."

Introduction of Chief Charles H. Ramsey

At this time, it is my pleasure and honor to introduce the first of our two featured speakers. He is one of law enforcement's most respected leaders and we are indeed proud and privileged to have him as our chief of police here in the District of Columbia.

I have walked the walls here at the Memorial with Chief Ramsey and have seen him cast a familiar look at too many names etched on these walls. Earlier this year, he faced a chief's toughest task-burying two of his own officers-and he did so with his usual sense of dignity and compassion.

On a personal note, I would like to say how proud I am that Chief Ramsey is also a valued member of the National Law Enforcement Museum Advisory Committee, and he is helping to craft the story of law enforcement's proud tradition of service and sacrifice. Ladies and gentlemen, the Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, Charles Ramsey.

Recognition of Survivors Present 

As we prepare to lay the wreath in honor of the more than 16,500 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty, we want to also acknowledge the tremendous sacrifice that has been made by the surviving family members of those officers.

At this time we would be honored if all of the survivors with us here today would please rise and be recognized for the sacrifice that you and your loved one have made to keep America safe.

Introductory of Shirley Gibson

Our next speaker, Mrs. Shirley Gibson, is a friend and an inspiration to many. On February 5, 1997, she experienced the pain of so many other survivors here today. Her son, Brian, while sitting in a patrol car at a stoplight, was gunned down in a cold-blooded act of revenge.

Years of separation from that event, and a determination to beat the pain and use a God-given gift to inspire and help others, has resulted in Shirley Gibson becoming the leading voice for police survivors in America today. She started the local DC chapter for COPS-the Concerns of Police Survivors-soon after Brian was killed. And, this past May, Shirley was elected National President of COPS — the first parent of a fallen officer ever to hold that position.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to introduce the National President of the Concerns of Police Survivors, Mrs. Shirley Gibson.

Introduction of Wreathlaying Participants 

Thirteen years ago, on October 15, 1991, President George H. W. Bush and some 20,000 others gathered on this hallowed ground to dedicate the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Today, we commemorate that very special moment in our nation's history when law enforcement's service and sacrifice was formally acknowledged and honored with a national monument.

In recognition of that landmark event and in memory of the more than 16,500 officers, and their families, who have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve public safety, we will now place a commemorative wreath. Presenting the wreath will be Shirley Gibson, representing all of our nation's police survivors, along with DC Metropolitan Police Chief Charles Ramsey, representing the 870,000 law enforcement officers across America.

Traditionally, at this point in the ceremony, we ask family members, along with agency escorts, to lay roses on the Memorial medallion in memory of officers in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, as well as federal officers, who have died in the line of duty during the past 12 months. We recognize these officers and their family members as symbolic representatives of fallen officers and police survivors across our nation. Today, we pay special tribute to 11 of those officers. As the officer's name is read I would like to invite their family representatives and agency escort to please come forward.

May these officers rest in peace, and may they never be forgotten.

Please rise for the retreat of colors.

Concluding Remarks

For the next few hours, a rotating law enforcement honor guard will stand vigil here at the Memorial as a special salute to America's fallen officers. Honor guard units from 20 different law enforcement agencies will be participating. A reception will be held immediately following today's ceremony at the Memorial Visitors Center at 605 E Street-just two blocks to my right. Everyone is invited to attend.

I want to thank all of you for sharing in this special tribute to America's fallen officers and I want to express special appreciation to all of our ceremony participants, especially our bagpiper, retired Metropolitan Police Officer Chris Jackson, who was not acknowledged earlier.

Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes today's ceremony. May God bless all of you and may God bless all of America's peace officers.